tv Dateline NBC NBC October 28, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
. it was very exciting. >> they met in vegas, a professional poker player. >> he said he was making good money at it. >> a former trapeze artist. she fell for him, but she didn't gamble on this. >> i could smell the odor of decay and blood. >> or this. >> at every turn there was another woman. >> married with a child and a woman in every city. >> what else is he capable of? >> capable of murder? he had an alibi. >> credit card transactions and phone records of me driving it from las vegas. >> but could this little card hold the key? that was just a shot in the dark. >> absolutely. >> was he a calculated killer, or was his had lifestyle on trial?
>> he made mistakes, but that doesn't make him a monster. >> was there one more card up his sleeve? >> it goes back to him thinking, i've bluffed some of the best. >> "the player." >> good evening and welcome to "dateline." i'm lester holt. tonight the story of a double murder that was both shocking and puzzling. there were no witnesses and few clues. the victims were a respected couple, their son, it turned out, played poker for a living. could that lifestyle have had something to do with it? the case was a mystery, until prosecutors looked again at a blood-stained card, ignored in the original investigation. could that be the key? here's keith morrison. >> reporter: it was her first time in las vegas. her first look at that famous
strip, its outsized kich, its gaudy casinos with their endless electronic and clatter and their darker places where men in dark suits hover over the study calm of high-rolling wishful thinkers. her name was adrienne solomon and she was here on business. >> i was excited to go, to get to see what this city was all about. >> reporter: adrienne came to las vegas for a medical planning. meeting planning was her business, a road job. >> i'm probably gone 50% of the time. >> reporter: now the job had brought her here, to a vast casino, all alone. exciting, of course, though buttoned down compared to her previous, more exotic occupation, teaching the flying trapeze. >> i went to work for club med and worked for the vacationers, i worked for seven years, living all over the world. >> i can't imagine what it it would be like to have a job where your responsibility it to
teach people how to relax and have fun and do it it in a wonderful setting. >> it was the best job. >> reporter: in which she learned to embrace moments of fun, new experiences, and had learned something, too, about how to read people. or so she thought. now here she was april 2006, noisy casino, observing a craps game. >> gentleman standing right to my side turned around and said, do you want me to explain the game to you? so he did and we started chatting. and like any woman in her mid-30s is going to do, i looked to make sure he didn't have a wedding ring as he started to flirt with me a little bit. he asked if i wanted to go to dinner that night. i said, i'm going to dinner anyway, so why not? >> reporter: her dinner date in earnest shiror iii. >> there was not that awkward silence sometimes you have first dates. >> reporter: ernie, that's what he called himself, was good-looking, college-educated, a former eagle scout who had
been raised in a mormon house hoild. though his occupation was rather unusual. he was a professional poker player. >> kind of surprised me that someone with his background would be a professional poker player. >> of course, you had done something kind of odd for a while, too. >> exactly. which is why i found it -- no big deal about it. he said he made good money at it. >> reporter: he said he had masterly hiding cards. >> he is good at reading people, which is very important in the poker world. >> reporter: he kept an apartment in southern california but spent much of his time in las vegas. >> he gambled enough at the tables, he had high enough status that he got free room and free meals, show tickets. >> reporter: and he seemed to be doing it all rather responsibly, saving money he told her for those times when the cards weren't so lucky. >> it was almost like somebody having a sales job, that they
know sometimes they're going to get a lot of great sales and sometimes they're not. >> reporter: she fell for ernie over the next few days of magic time in vegas. and soon a long-distance relationship blossomed. they were on the phone every day. there were trips, she to vegas, he to meet her in places like aruba and mexico. and one day ernie told adrienne he loved her. >> it it was very exciting. >> reporter: ernie traveled to adrienne's home base in north carolina several times, got to know her family, her mother lynn. >> he was charming, was very comfortable with us, us with him. >> we talked about marriage. we were looking at engagement rings. >> reporter: they actually talked about children. >> first one being a girl, of course he would love her but he really wanted a boy. >> reporter: so it was wonderful. not perfect of course. what is? ernie's mother, the devout mormon, did not approve of his poker playing, apparently.
even though ernie's father loved poker. many fact, they often played together. >> he really seemed to like his father and respect his father. they seemed to be close. >> reporter: so why didn't they want to meet her? it was, frankly, a little hard to understand. >> how he explained it to me, his mother did not approve of our relationship because i was not mormon. and we traveled around together and were living a life of sin or whatever. >> this scarlet woman. >> exactly you. >> reporter: when he did meet ernie's dad once, it didn't go so well. >> he was in the lobby offer caesars, he started to say, this is it adrienne, he said, i know who she is and turned my back to me. i never had been so offended. >> reporter: so it faded. no marriage, no children. >> i think the laflt six months of our relationship we knew it wasn't going anywhere.
>> and in february of 2008 they broke it off. so maybe that's why weeks later she didn't hear right away about what happened. >> emergency. we need everybody now. >> what kind of a problem? >> i don't know. >> reporter: didn't hear about the grisly double murder where one of the victims was named earnest cherrer. coming up -- was one of the victims the man she had loved? >> it didn't seem like something like that could really have happened to someone i know. [ man ] i got this citi thank you card and started earning loads of points. you got a weather balloon with points? yes, i did. [ man ] points i could use for just about anything. ♪ ♪ keep on going in this
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>> reporter: adrienne solomon was putting life's pieces back together. her two-year romance with professional poker player ernie cher scherer had failed. once she as was in san francisco on a business trip and her text showed up. >> it it said, i heard about his parents. let me know if there's anything i can do. >> reporter: adrienne got her solve to a you computer and got online and saw the appalling story. >> learned that they had been murdered. it was surreal. it didn't seem like something like that could have happened to someone i know. >> reporter: not her ernie, thankfully, but ernie's parents, ernest and his wife murdered, found dead in their own house, which was coincidentally in an upscale country club right
across the san francisco bay from adrienne's hotel. and now, of course, the house was a crime scene where even the seasoned lead detective was horrifyied by you what he saw. >> it was probably the most gruesome, brutal homicide scene i had ever seen. >> reporter: march 14, 2008, the call came in, a country club employee had seen what looked like a body through the scherers window. kristen tucker was one of the first on the scene. >> as i approached the front door of the home, i could smell the odor of decay and blood from quite a distance away. >> reporter: and inside was like a war zone, blood everywhere and the battered bodies of two people who had clearly fought for their lives. >> the bodies had suffered extensive, extensive injuries. >> reporter: it it wasn't just the odors that told investigators the bodies had been here for a while. >> there was a week's worth of
newspapers that hadn't been collected. >> reporter: they narrowed the death between friday evening, march 7th, the last time anyone saw them and march 8th. method of death? hard to be sure. no murder weapon lying around, but they had been hit and sliced by what must had been a very big knife or sword. what happened here? was it a home invasion robbery? possible, judging from the mess. ernie scherer was a wealthy real estate investor known to carry cash around. detective mike norton. >> in the victims' bedroom, the drawers had been pulled out, a lot of clothes had been thrown on the floor. >> reporter: a decorative sword was missing and two jade statues, likely expensive. but wait a minute, maybe it wasn't a robbery. >> her purse was present on the kitchen table. there was jewelry. >> in the father's pants pocket in his bedroom there was a large amount of cash.
>> reporter: $9,000 in cash rolled up in his jeans pocket. and that was unit touched? >> untouched. >> reporter: so was the crime scene staged to hide something more sinister than robbery? why, for example, did they find that odd and very obvious pattern of bloody shoe prints but only around the bodies? >> and the shoe prints would go back and forth to each victim, but they just disappeared. you were thinking, how did this person get out? >> reporter: still, easy enough to i.d. the shoe prints. there was an obvious nike swoosh in the middle. little checking revealed it was a nike impact tomahawk, big, maybe close to a size 12. but who wore them? who would do such an awful thing? and why? >> in our area, we just didn't have a husband and wife in their 60s in a multimillion-dollar neighborhood killed for no reason. >> reporter: investigators poked around the scherers' background looking really for enemies with
motive. and it turned out they had some. or at least ernest did. >> ernie was a very passionate person on his views and he wasn't afraid to let you know how he felt. >> reporter: guy houston, a former california state assemblyman knew ernest in his conservatism. >> he did make people angry, but it was all in a political -- it wasn't a personal basis. it was all political. >> reporter: besides, what p happened to them was too ugly even for politics. and as for charlene. >> i don't know anybody who didn't like her. >> reporter: here was her friend from the mormon church. >> her confidence, her command, her good heart, her ability to reach out and help people. >> reporter: which she had also been doing professionally for decades as an accounting teacher said this colleague at cal state east bay. >> she not only wanted to help students with the particular subject area and the class, she also wanted to help had the students with their career and
their life. >> reporter: so who was responsible? who knew? not a suspect in sight. >> i instantly got my phone out and sent had him a text message. >> reporter: the minute adrienne solomon heard what happened, she reached out for her ernie. they decided to meet in san francisco for dinner that very night. >> even though we weren't in a relationship anymore, we'd been friends for a long time. i you i felt good that i you could be there for him. he got really upset during dinner. i was there to be a listening board for him. >> reporter: and that was that. until a few days later when ernie phoned again, very upset. >> he said he that the cops are starting to harass him a little bit. >> reporter: and again adrienne calmed him down. all normal police procedure, show told him. you always hear they look at family first. so that's just what they were doing. >> reporter: but ernie was a mess, asked to see her again. so adrienne arranged to meet him
at her next business stop in dallas. be a support again. >> exactly. >> reporter: but adrienne had no way of knowing what was coming. or what that news would do to her. >> it was horrible. i think i you started shaking. what was wrong with me that i didn't see this? >> reporter: was it about the murder? no. no, it was something else altogether. coming up -- revelations about the double life of a man she thought she knew. >> he did it in las vegas. he did it in it new orleans. >> he did it everywhere he went. >> what else had he done? 's why we have the good for you .ra te it's a life insurance rate that rewards healthy living and it's our way of saying, "you're the man!" or, maybe, "you're the woman!" the really sensible woman who should get rates starting at just $14 a month and who should be able to buy a policy with just one call.
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we dated for a couple years. of course he couldn't have done this. >> reporter: adrienne told him he he could meet her in dallas at her business trip. and it was actually just as she arrived when it happened. something she'll remember for the rest of her life. >> i was in the taxi headed from the airport to the hotel in dallas, and my phone rings and it is a detective. >> reporter: she listened to him say he was investigating the death of ernie's parents and he had a question. >> and he said, now, i know you guys broke up, but can you tell me how long this affair lasted? >> reporter: affair? why did he use that word? >> why would you say that? we dated exclusively for two years. >> you don't know what you're talking about, she told him. >> he said, so you don't know he's married and has a child? i said, what are you talking about? i said to him, why would i believe you? >> reporter: but by the time she
hung up the phone, adrienne knew. she it diddid believe him. >> all of the puzzle pieces came together in my head. >> reporter: suddenly it all made sense, why he never wanted her to sr his apartment omeet his parents, why his dad snubbed her that time at the casino. he had been married all along, to a woman named robin and had a young son ernest iv and every good opinion adrienne had of him and her and her own judgment flew out of the window of that dallas cab. >> i'm a smart person. how could i have not put all of these pieces together? we talked about having kids together and he wanted to have a boy? he already had a boy. what is going on? >> reporter: things happened quickly then, quickly and painfully. >> my phone rang and it was him. i said, listen, the cops just called and so he asked, what did they tell you? i'm like, well, i know you're married. they're like, it's in name only. we're not really married. it's not a true marriage.
let me come and explain this to you. i said, i don't want to see you. please just go. >> reporter: he wouldn't. he refused. she met him in the lobby. >> then he tried to explain everything away. >> reporter: he couldn't, of course, and she sat there half listening, her quill ib ream gone in a whirl of bad feeling. >> i you was hurt and angry with him and myself. and it was unbelievable to think that those two years had been a sham. >> reporter: oh, yes. and, in fact, more than one sham. a whole quilt of shams. detectives back in northern california had begun to uncover details of a double life which appeared to be, shall we say, prodigious. >> it seemed like at every turn there was another woman this guy had some involvement with. >> coming out of the wood work. >> there was quite a few of them. >> heed said he was recently single. >> reporter: like pamela
nichols, for example, who responded to ernie's ad in march 2008 in the dating section of craigslists in las vegas. she met him for drinks. >> ernie's personality was very nice, friendly. >> reporter: the two made plans to have dinner march 14, 2008. but about 2:00 in the afternoon, said pamela ernie called to cancel. >> saying he needed to go home, that his parents' house was broken into and burglarized and they were both murdered. >> reporter: but in the weeks after the murder, ernie's craigslist conquest resumed. >> he did it in las vegas, he did it in new orleans. >> he did it everywhere he went and he got lots of responses. >> does that surprise you? >> it surprised me that he was able to form the level of intimacy very rapidly with so many different women that he did. >> kimberly olsen was one of them. she formed a very intimate
relationship with ernie scherer, met him in september 2008, six months after his parents' murder. she was at a casino in me skeet, nevada. >> he came over and said he needed a pretty girl to blow on his dice at the craps table. he was a smooth talker. >> that's a line. >> it is. i fell for it. >> reporter: from day one, their relationship was based on honesty, she said, full disclosure, all the dirty laundry. >> he would tell me the stories about his wife and his girlfriended and going back and forth. i told him he was a jerk. i think he knew he had made lot of mistakes. >> of course he also told her about his parents's murder. >> he missed his parents. he would tell stories about him and his father. he'd get teary-eyed about it. >> kimberly got to know ernie, she said, very, very well he. >> if you can drive to texas with someone and not want to strangle them in the middle of texas you get to know someone really well. he was really sweet.
>> reporter: he eventually moved in with him. did you love him? >> i you did. >> but that other woman adrienne solomon was struggling. >> if he could lie to me, lie to my family for two years, talk about having children, look at rings, what else was he capable of? >> reporter: but, of course, living a double life doesn't make you a double murderer. those alameda county detectives knew that perfectly well. but, as they were discovering, a cheating heart wasn't the only disturbing thing about this professional poker player. turned out he had some other secrets,s secrets, and he was battling some long odds. >> why did he want to get in the house so badly? >> he wanted the will. ! no matter what small business you are in, managing expenses seems to... get in the way.
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it was, to say the least, eye-opening when detectives encountered adrienne solomon and heard her account of the secret life of ernie scherer iii. >> i kind of thought, you know, he stole two years from me. >> reporter: not to mention the truly audacious extent of ernie's fa land50 you landering. this after all was not some tabloid snackdown. ernie's parents had been brutally murdered, not anything you'd expect from a hormonally hopped up lover boy. the detectives encountered lots of the victims' blood but very few useful clues. >> we were looking for everything, every blood stain, fingerprints. >> reporter: and they found nothing that pointed to ernie. after all those mysterious bloody nike shoe prints were consistent with a size 12 and ernie wore a 9 1/2 or 10. also found in one of those a speck of dna that did not belong to either ernie or his parents.
now, early on, there was only that curious incident, just a little odd, happened the day after the bodies were discovered. ernie showed up at the house all distraught insisting officer tucker give him entry. no can do, she said, active crime scene and all. >> he became demanding and even condescending very, very quickly, which surprised me. >> why did he want to get in the house so badly? >> he wanted the will. >> he told you that? >> he did. >> reporter: his parents' will, which investigators found in a desk drawer. >> and the will indicated that their fairly significant estate would be divided equally between their two children, katherine and ernest, and they would receive their inheritance at the age of 30. >> did you determine how old ernests was? >> i did. earn ernest scherer iii would turn 30 in july and his parents were killed in march. >> reporter: ernie's father had
a couple million invested in real estate, though at the time of his death the value of the estate was certainly shrinking right along with housing prices. still, was it even remotely possible ernie would kill his parents to cash in on an inheritance. detectives had a look at ernie's financial situation, and you know how some professional poker players claim they win a lot? maybe not. at least not in ernie's case. >> we learned that he had 60-some-odd thousand dollars in credit card debt and he also in talking with different casinos had lost a significant amount of money to the tune of $80,000 or $90,000 in his play in the last year. >> reporter: oh, but that was not the worst of it it. not even close. by march of 2008 when the murders happened, real estate in california was huffing and puffing on its race to the bottom, and six months before that ernie the son wanted to buy a house in the city of brea in southern california but couldn't
get a loan. banks not so sanguine about the security of a poker player's income. so he borrowed the money from his father, 616,000. but then real estate started tanking so father ernest asked son ernie to go to a bank, refinance, pay back his loan, and ernie couldn't. >> he was frantic trying to refinance his home. >> and at the time that they were killed he had missed a mortgage payment to his parents for the first time. >> so this is approaching some sort of crisis. >> that's what we felt, yes. >> reporter: so motive? well, maybe. investigators told ernie they wanted to talk, and he agreed to come down to the station. where he explained their suspicions were groundless. ernie had an alibi. >> there will be transactions showing me drive from las vegas to kol california. >> reporter: he had driven from
las vegas that afternoon, stopped for gas and a bite to eat in mcdonald's in primm, nevada. there were credit card records to prove it. he arrived around 5:00 p.m., fell asleep on the couch, watched a movie on tv and went to bed. wife and son were away, he said. and bright and early the next morning he met his elderly grandfather for a bridge tournament, which his grandfather ernest i confirmed. still, detectives had some questions that ernie surely should have been able to answer,s shouldn't he? >> so we asked him, what road did you take to get to your home? he wasn't able to tell us. what television show did you watch? he wasn't able to tell us. >> reporter: and then when they checked ernie's cell phone records, they found an unusual gap in transmission, right around the time of the murders, from the afternoon of march 7th to the early morning of march 8th, 17 hours 46 minutes ernie's
phone did not register on any cell phone tower anywhere. >> he was just a guy that was constantly talking on his cell phone. so the fact there's a 17-hour window where he's not using it at all was definitely suspicious to us. >> reporter: but, as the investigators' suspicions grew, just as they felt they might possibly be closing in on something, ernie scherer iii disappeared. coming up -- following the trail, connecting the dots. police turn up a strange story. >> he asked me if i would do something slightly illegal for $300. >> but you was it the smoking gun they needed? >> when "dateline" continues.
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or an innocent man fed up with negative attention from the cops? but detectives back in alameda county, california, did not panic. herby ernie probably didn't know it, but ran enter prizing officer put a gps tracking device on his car. >> for a majority time we knew where he was. >> reporter: the car and dating sites let police to a number of young women he, well, met. like the one in new orleans who called the police after a strange night with a man who first told her he was writing a you novel about a gambler who is a suspect in his parents' murder and who then told her his own parents had been murdered. and when she went back to his hotel room, he had rigged it with bungee cords, said if someone had come to get him he had a plan to escape. >> he was going to break the window of the hotel room and basically rappel out of the hotel. >> did she, quite understandably, high-tail it out of there? >> no.
she chose to stay. >> reporter: stay the night? >> she did. >> reporter: meanwhile, the lead detective called in reeven forcements and apretty soon some of the boring of all police work paid off. a deputy borrowed from investigation poured through hours of security camera taken from the scherers' acountry club. finally, there it was ia red camaro approaching the home on march 7th and exiting march 8th, just when the murders were thought to have occurred. a red chevy camaro with a black top. isn't that the same make, model and color of ernie scherer's car? sure looked like it. trouble was they couldn't see the license plate for the driver's face. could have been coincidence. and even that, the car and the other evidence they gathered, wouldn't be enough to persuade a d.a. to file murder charges.
so the cops brought everything they knew to the forgotten woman in our story, ernie's wife robin. she had been left behind when ernie left off a couple of weeks after the murders. when she saw what investigators had, she was not only ready to divorce ernie, she told police she would help them by attempting to bluff the poker player. >> hello? >> hi! >> hi! how are you? >> detectives recorded this phone call in which she tells ernie about the video but chooses to embellish the facts a bit, telling him his face was visible. >> the video was sent to a studio, like disney or something and it was enhanced. it looks like you in your car and they're basically saying you were there friday night. were you in the bay area on friday night? because i thought you were driving back home and there's this video that they have and it clearly looks like it's your car. >> reporter: and then?
a long pause. >> hello? >> i'm here. i'm just drinking. there's a video -- like from someone's house or something? house in castlewood? what kind of video is it? >> no . it's going into the country club area. >> going into the country club area. >> uh-huh. and it looks like your car and looks like you in it. >> you can -- you can see the face of the driver? >> yes. were you there? and if you were -- >> no. >> -- you better have an explanation as to why you were there. >> are you lying to me? >> i understand why you're asking the question. and obviously -- you know, the police are listening to this phone call, i'm assuming. right? >> i guess, i have no idea. >> reporter: and in this game of poker, it was hard to say who was playing whom. in the end, there was no smoking gun, but was ernie spooked a
little? was that why he reefed out again to adrienne solomon with this request? >> i'm really hoping we he can end up back together. >> reporter: he told her, said adrienne, he was thinking of changing his lifestyle, quitting poker if only she'd take him back. but she was a different adrienne now. >> i think i kind of felt more powerful in that conversation than i had with him in a long time because i know that i don't trust a single word that he says. >> reporter: meanwhile, back in vegas, detectives learn days before the murders ernie scherer had made an unusual request of this man, david mock. >> he asked me if i would do something slightly illegal for $300. >> reporter: david is a professional piano player in vegas. >> he says, i'm looking to get a gun because i'm a professional gum bler and i carry a lot of money. i you thought, no, i'm not going to do that.
>> reporter: and investigates discovered ernie also asked david's performance partner to buy him a gun and offered another friend $50,000 to point the finger of suspicion away from ernie and toward someone else. and even if none of it was definitive, it all added up and it looked bad for ernie. and so, finally, nearly a year after the murders, the alameda county d.a. made the decision to roll the dice. it was february 2009. kimberly olsen was at home with ernie in their las vegas apartment. >> there was a knock on the door and ernie answered the door. i came out and there were fbi agents with guns drawn. >> reporter: ernie scherer was charged with two counts of murder. and kimberly olsen thought the whole world had gone crazy. >> he's a poker player and he had made his mistakes obviously with the women in his life. but that's a very far jump from being a poker player to murdering your parents. >> reporter: but back home in north carolina, when adrienne
solomon heard about ernie's arrest -- did you believe he could have done such a thing? >> i believed he could have. and for me that was enough. >> reporter: a trial date set even though the mystery dna at the crime scene was never identified, even though not one piece of direct evidence connected ernie to any murder weapon or those mysterious nike footprints. remember, they were consistent with a size 12, and ernie wore 9 1/s2 or 10. and you knew one of the lines that was coming had to be a defense attorney couldn't resist it, if those shoes don't fit, you must acquit. >> absolutely. >> and a jury might just look at that. >> and that went through my mind several times. >> reporter: and then someone noticed that little piece of paper right there. what was that? coming up -- >> so that was a shot in the dark. >> absolutely. >> and it hit its mark, a bull's eye. >> i'm thinking, that's the
ending of the book. >> but does the gambler have one more bluff in store? and coming up next friday on "dateline," "crossing the line." two loving families, one deadly crash. >> my whole world just pulled out from underneath me. >> reporter: but this story of a tragic accident was about to take a shocking turn. >> the last thing i wanted was to have to take a double fatality and not treat it as a homicide. >> reporter: was all this misery a result of murder? an accusation no one saw coming. >> i you couldn't deal with it. >> reporter: a trial in a tormented town. >> you took him. you did it. >> reporter: and a verdict that would shake them all. >> we the jury -- >> she l
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>> reporter: it was september 2010, just months before ernie scherer iii was to go on trial for the murder of his parents. prosecutors pored over the evidence. was there anything else? anything they missed? they might use to seal the case against ernie scherer? and that's when they saw it, something quite odd.
>> they came across a piece of paper that we had come across that had blood droplets on it. >> reporter: just one small piece of paper that one of the detectives picked up from the bloody scene a few feet from the bloody body of ernie ii. it was for a baseball bat. but they searched the place, one thing they didn't find was a baseball bat. they thought it was odd, for 60-year-olds to have a warranty card for a baseball bat. >> reporter: not just a baseball bat but a nike baseball bat. just like the one that was on the floor in the sneakers. were they on to something here?
>> so they kind of backbacktracked. was there any nike store where we had him getting gas and a hamburger. they found across the street a nike outlet store. >> so that was just kind of a shot in the dark. >> absolutely. >> there it was, a nike outlet store in primm, nevada, just feet from the gas station and the mcdonald's where ernie used plastic to buy them, maybe 12 hours before the murder. possible hitch? ernie did not use a credit card at this or any other nike store that day. so maybe he didn't buy a baseball bat to use on his parents. unless -- did he use cash in order to hide a purchase at nike you? one of the d.a.'s investigators asked nike to check purchase records for march 7, 2008.
and, as they say in vegas, jackpot. at 11:38 a.m., just before ernie used his credit card at the mcdonald's and the gas station, there was a cash purchase at the nike outlet, one pair of size 12 nike impact tomahawk sneakers, a baseball batch and junior match soccer gloves. >> i'm thinking, even the most skeptical jury in the world has to realize, put it all together, the book is just finished. that's the ending of the book. >> reporter: in january 2011 the alameda county prosecutor told jurors that ernest scherer iii was a narcissistic sociopath who savagely murdered his parents in pure blood. >> he's sheer evil, he thinks he's smarter than everyone. >> reporter: heavily in debt and desperate for money, herby's house of cards was collapsing before his eyes, said the prosecutor, so he killed his parents for the money. for his inheritance.
even ernie's own family unanimously turned against him, including earnest scherer senior, ernests'ses grandfather who took the stand on his 95th birthday to testify against his grandson, his namesake. and once again adrienne had a date to see ernie in court. >> they asked you to testify. >> they did. it was overwhelming and terrifying. >> reporter: adrienne told the jury about ernie's two years of deception, the double life, all those lies. >> i made it a point not to look at him during the entire time i was in the room and during the entire testimony. >> reporter: was it enough for the jury? ernie's defense jumped to the task, argue the estdz, the regular chevy camaro, the dead cell phone around the time of the murders, asking his friends to buy a gun, all of that could have been simply coincidence. it could be explained away. and, besides, said the defense, there was actual physical
evidence to prove someone other than ernie committed the crime, that speck of unidentified dna found in one of those bloody shoe prints at the crime scene. the prosecution argued it was just a mistake, contamination. but did it point to the real killer? that's where the so-called jackpot evidence, the cash purchase of the nike sneakers and baseball bat and gloves? who knows it who bought those, said the defense but it wasn't ernie. anyway, those nike sneakers were a size 12, he wore a 10 or 9 1/2. proves he didn't do. and the prosecution had only this on this point -- >> he is very proficient at misinformation and disinformation. and i think he intentionally bought shoes that were too large for him. >> ernie scherer took the stand himself, sat up there for the better part of seven days, confident, often smiling, and
claiming it inging inging it it was his lifestyle the prosecution put on trial. >> he was human, he made mistakes like everybody else does, but it doesn't make him a monster monster. >> reporter: would he convince the jury? >> i think it goes back to him thinking, i'm at a table and there's all kinds of chips in the middle of the table, and, you know what? i bluffed some of the best. these 12 people? they're nothing compared to some of the poker players that i've bluffed so i'm going to give it my best. >> reporter: the jury stayed out for 2 1/2 days. we spoke with one of the 12 jurors who deliberated and an alternate who sat through the case. the defense would argue that in the way the prosecution put this man's lifestyle on trial. i mean, he he was raised as a mormon -- >> somebody should. >> somebody should? >> yeah. all other things being equal, his lifestyle counted against him. >> reporter: but, of course, all things were not equal. and though a couple of jurors held out for a while, in the end it it came down to this.
>> too many coincidences. way too many. >> because taken by themselves, they could be explained. >> they could be. >> yeah. >> but you put them all together? doesn't work. >> reporter: and so earnest scherer iii was found guilty. two counts of first-degree murder, two consecutive life sentences, no parole. his sister katherine daughter of the victims spoke publicly for the first time outside the courtroom. >> hard to have to talk about my parents and the loss. they're no longer with me at all. it it does tear me p up. >> do you feel justice was served? >> i don't know. it's hard. it it's hard to admit that anybody could do something like that. >> reporter: and adrienne solomon, the one-time teacher of the flying tra inging trapeze, the woman who thought she had learned a thing or two about reading people, still wonders why she just didn't see he it. >> i don't trust my judgment and
i don't trust other people are telling the truth. and that's hard. >> i wonder if you'll ever get that back. >> i don't know. i'm sure over time everything's been getting better. but i'm still not ready to be trusting to everyone so easily. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we want to remind you to join us for a new broadcast from nbc news "rock center" with brian williams williams, debuts this monday night 10:00/9:00 central. and we'll see you again for "dateline" next friday, 10:00/9:00 central. . tonight a survival story. a six-day drama in the virginia wild comes a an amazing end as volunteers celebrate by